An extraordinarily successful, deeply uncool band who few will admit to liking, The Police are entertainingly portrayed in Chris Campion’s book as a shower of chancers who got very lucky indeed. It follows the “first Thatcherite pop band”, who seemed to have little real love for music, from their cynical piggybacking on punk through their indolent appropriation of reggae to world domination and beyond. The Police built their success like a brand, and helped usher in a new age of media manipulation and self-promotion.
This depressing sub-plot is leavened by Campion’s casual disparagement of almost all concerned – his moderate tone and lightly-expressed damning criticisms make for a very gleeful read. No one comes out too well: Andy Summers appears pompous, humourless and passionless, while Sting leaps off the page as a dull, pretentious, disingenuous, disloyal, cowardly, nasty little narcissist nitwit. Only Stewart Copeland emerges as likeable, a dorky hustler apparently possessed of the only portion of self-awareness dished out to the three of them.
It’s a nicely pungent but nonetheless serious book that will make you want to run to the arms of your favourite band and tell them how much you love them. Unless your favourite band is The Police, in which case you may feel like not speaking to them for a while.